Ask Me Vol. 12 – Suede Maintenance, Thom Browne Varsity Jacket and Common Project Sneakers

I own a couple suede shoes. Do you have any personal tips in maintaining/furnishing the suede? And how do you when they get dirtied? – CottonCandy
I am one of the last people you want to ask about wardrobe maintenance specifically shoe maintenance. Many of my shoes, in general, have gone through the ringer. They have deep scratches, scuffs, stains and have experienced all forms of abuse. I never really shine my shoes and only treat them occasionally due to the fact that I am extremely lazy with wardrobe maintenance. Suede shoes are one of the more disposable items you can buy.  Suede is the under layer of full grain leather.  It is softer and more delicate than regular  leather making it very delicate.  Unlike full grain leather, you cannot apply or treat suede with conditioners and soaps. Many of the conditioners contain lanolin and glycerin which are the ingredients that “feed” the leather. These two ingredients soften the leather and replace the natural oils that are loss from everyday use and moisture.  When leather gets hard it cracks, these soaps and conditioners prevent this and are not applicable to suede. Even though you cannot condition suede there are ways to maintain it.  If you have scuffs or you feel like the suede is getting dirty, you can use a suede eraser and a brush to clean the dirt off.  The brush will raise the nap (the fuzzy parts of the suede) up making your shoes look better.  If your shoes went through the rain numerous times, you may see salt stains (white marks) I would recommend you going to your cobbler and have them steam out your shoes.  The steam will lift the dirt and salt off the surface.  Once you get a crack in suede, the areas around it will eventually disintegrate and all hope is lost.  :(

Alden Suede Chukka Boot Ask Me Vol. 12   Suede Maintenance, Thom Browne Varsity Jacket and Common Project Sneakers

I recently became very interested in fashion but being 5 foot 6 and 200 pounds its hard too look good in a lot of things any tips or suggestions? - Cameron P.
Before you start working on your wardrobe, the one thing you need to ask yourself is whether or not you are going to stay this weight. If you are going to fluctuate in weight you are going to run into many problems and will need to discard items that do not fit you or alter your whole wardrobe.  Staying your current weight may bring up some issues. It may sound like common sense, but if you are buying bigger sizes the piece will overall be much bigger. The sleeves and body will be way too long and you would need a good tailor to fix all of these problems. Many tailors do not want to touch these pieces as they often end quite horribly. When shortening a jacket the proportions can be completely thrown off and good alteration tailors may even refuse the job. You will need to also need to take into consideration that you are likely to spend 25% more on clothes due to the high alteration fees. If you are looking at more “fashion” pieces, many of the designers run their lines smaller than usual and some pieces may not fit your frame at even the largest sizes. It is wonderful that you have found an interest in clothing and fashion, but, in all honesty, I would work on your weight before your wardrobe.

Hey man, just saw you coming down the escalator at Kmart. You stay killin it! – Raf
Thanks. We all have our reasons for going to K-Mart.

Thom Browne buckled wingtip brogues, yay or nay – Trukfit
Yay. You can take the buckle off if you need a more conservative shoe and I would definitely cop  It is like having two shoes in one. If you already have some wingtips from Thom Browne, you could have the strap made for you. The strap is not very complicated to make.

How do you feel about the sizing for the Thom Browne Varsity jacket? I am 185cm (6 foot) with wide shoulders and slender. I cannot decide if I should go for a size 1 or 2. Since you are the master of TB. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. – Eric
I would get a size 2 if you have wide shoulders, I too have very wide shoulders and technically speaking only fit a size 1 in the shoulders (shoulder-wise size 0 is usually too small for me but I wear it anyways). Since you are taller than me I would recommend a size 2.

Thom Browne Varsity Jacket Ask Me Vol. 12   Suede Maintenance, Thom Browne Varsity Jacket and Common Project Sneakers

I just wanted to say that, like you, I’m a very trim, small guy…and I think you’re a genius. – Ben
Flattered. It’s hard for us to find clothing. Just trying to help out.

For a couple years now I’ve been hearing conflicting reports about the quality of Common Projects. Though their low top sneaks are pretty loved, I’m interested in whether you have an opinion on their chukkas (suede) and whether they’re worth their price point? – Patches
Common Projects are high quality sneakers and I do not see a problem with them. They use great nappa leathers and are worth every penny if you are buying the sneakers. You can get other sneakers at much lower price points but they do not have the quality level as Common Projects. If you are looking for a high end “luxury” sneaker, I would purchase a pair of Common Projects. $400 is a lot to pay for a pair of sneakers, but other options of the same quality such as Lanvin and Rick Owens can costs atleast twice as much. The chukkas on the other hand are, in my opinion, shoes and you should be able to resole them. Many of the Common Project shoes come with a sneaker sole making them extremely hard to resole and recraft. In order to resole a pair of sneakers, a cobbler would usually need to sand down the sole and adhere another rubber sole to the existing midsole. If you are in the market for a good chukka boot, I recommend getting a pair of Aldens. I have a cordovan pair and they are going on to the second resole. Expect to throw out your Common Projects in a few years. They won’t have the same qualities if you resole them.

Common Projects Achilles Leather Low Top Sneaker Ask Me Vol. 12   Suede Maintenance, Thom Browne Varsity Jacket and Common Project Sneakers

I noticed that you have cool looking Moncler Gamme Bleu padding blazers in navy and gray. I am thinking about getting these as well. Do you know if they make your blazers pretty much every A/W season or each season is different? Do you think it’s possible to get these during sale season? Thanks. – Chris J.
The Moncler Gamme Bleu down blazer is one of my favorite pieces ever made and Moncler has been improving them from season to season. I have a blue one from the first season and have been having some problems with it. The snaps are not very strong and are at risk of falling out.  The feathers are also starting to poke out of the flannel causing the piece to be less warm. Luckily, Moncler has addressed this problem and I am very satisfied with my gray one. The gray blazer is from last season and they have replaced the snaps with more substantial ones and the flannel they use seems to be denser. The denser flannel keeps the feathers from falling out. One feature that has been added to many of the blazers are the gussets on the shoulder blades.  This makes them extremely comfortable. I was lucky enough to get both of mine on sale, but due to the recent popularity, I do not know if getting them on sale is a possibility.

Hi! what do you think of down gilets/vests as a layering piece, and would you have any recommendations below 400-500 bucks? thanks! – Paul
I find that down vests are extremely versatile and are great outwear pieces. I have a number of vests for all occasions and usually prefer them over coats and down jackets. They are extremely comfortable due to the fact they are short and sleeveless. Many of my vests provide me an adequate amount of warmth during the cold winter months.  I would recommend getting a vests from either Herno or Moncler.  I can only see you getting fall weight down vests in your budget   Usually ones that are winter weight are about $1000.   You can read more about down vests here.

I will be visiting NYC soon. I would like to find nice shawl collar cardigan. Do you have any suggestions of stores ? Thanks. – N
The nicest shawl collar cardigan I have seen on the market is from Micheal Bastian. They look great and at the price point they are a fairly good deal. I am sure that you will be able to find one at any of the department stores in New York City (Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdale’s).

I used to wear suits size 46 and now I wear size 44. Can my old suits (size 46) be altered and look nice ? Or it is hard to get them fitted ? – N
A good tailor should be able to trim down your old suits it is not such a hard job. I hope that your recent weight loss is here to stay. Tailoring all of your clothes down a size will be costly and you do not want to gain back the weight.

Your ‘ask me‘ game is on point like Ed Hardy in the aughts. Always funny, always informative. Much love. – X
I do not know if Ed Hardy was ever on point. Thank you for the kind words.

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  • Hassan Mahamat Haroun

    Hello my dear,
    Can you help me choose the right size? , iam so confused. Iam willing to buy THOM BROWNE Men Sports Jacket Blazer Coat Wool NEIMAN MARCUS Target same as the attached pic.

    My Height = 175 cm, Weight = 71 kg.
    I like the SLIM FIT Style